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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Snorkeling at Apo Island

Based from research, I know Apo Island is best for snorkeling because of its big turtles which you can see even near the shore.  There are also nice corals and marine sanctuary that can be found here.  This is why we had to include this in our trip to Dumaguete/Siquijor.  Besides, Apo Island is quite accessible coming from Dumaguete.  But we opted to come from Siquijor going to Apo Island since we availed Coco Grove Beach Resort's, the place we stayed in Siquijor, package trip.  You may read more info about it here

The resort's package tour to Apo Island costs Php 1,600 per person which includes boat transfer, entrance fees, lunch, snacks, snorkeling gears, aqua shoes and tour guides.  This is quite expensive compared to DIY from Dumaguete to Apo Island.  But it doesn't matter to us since we prefer to stay in Siquijor a bit longer and we no longer need to worry about anything since everything will be taken care of the resort.

Coco Grove's nice boat

Their boat was quite big which I think can accommodate to up to 20 pax.  It has an "indoor" and "outdoor" lounging area and with small restroom.  We aboard the boat at around 8am.  Travel time from the resort to Apo Island is about 2 hours.  The travel was not a smooth sailing because of the waves but still safe since the boat is quite big.  Upon reaching Apo Island, we walked our way to Apo Island Beach Resort, which we heard was Coco Grove's sister resort.  We just left our things there and proceed to the registration for snorkeling activity.  Snorkeling area was just near the registration area.  It is said to be called "the village" where locals stay.  It is also the area where big turtles can be found even near the shoreline.

Registration Area

Apo Island Beach Resort

Apo Island Beach Resort Accommodation

Apo Island Beach Resort on the left end of the beach

Rock formations surrounding Apo Island Beach Resort

Now feast your eyes below on what we saw :)

I don't know what this is. Creepy.

Turtles being fed by one of the tourist

My fiance trying to chase the turtle.  They swim fast!

See how big the turtle is!

Closer look of the turtle

Nice color of the turtle

Lunch was served buffet style at the Apo Island Beach resort.  It was a simple lunch with 3 viands, rice and dessert.  Location of the Apo Island Beach Resort was on one end of the beach where nice rock formations can be found.  It was a nice photo op location.

Panoramic view in front of Apo Island Beach Resort

When everyone is done, I thought we were already heading back to Coco Grove.  But it turns out, we were off to another snorkeling area!  Not far from Apo Island, our boat stopped and let us snorkel again.  I wasn't able to ask what the location is called.  I'm not sure if this is what they called the Marine Sanctuary which is located at the back of the village.  Anyway, these are what we found.  Not so clear pictures but the corals were beautiful!

Going back to Siquijor was a more "dizzy" ride.  Aside from its already raining, the waves were stronger and some waters were coming in our boat.  But again, it wasn't so scary since the boat is quite big.  And by the way, even if the travel time is quite long, you will not get bored since Globe data signal is strong even in the middle of the sea!  You can just browse Facebook and post status while cruising.

Visiting Apo Island is really worth it, most especially to those who likes snorkeling or even diving.  I heard there are a lot of diving spots in Dumaguete including those in Apo Island.  I would surely want to explore those someday. 

If you want to know how to plan your Dumaguete, Siquijor and Apo Island trip, you may read my previous blog post for some details.

Review: Blue Lilly Villa Resort Boracay

Going back to Boracay, we always prefer beachfront stay in station 1. After some research on various budget accommodations in Station 1 of Boracay, we finally decided to book at Blue Lilly Villa. We even got the room at a discounted price through my boracay guide website.  It is my second time to book hotels/resorts in MyBoracayGuide.  The first one was when we stayed in Willy's Beach Club in 2012 and now here in Blue Lilly Villa.

We booked for a standard room, which is just behind the reception area. The room was quite small but very clean and with strong a/c. The room has its own hot and cold shower, LCD TV, mini ref, extra mattress, queen size bed and desk fan. Wifi is also strong in our room. Each room is equipped with room service button where you can ask for anything from their friendly staff, to be delivered in your room.  I noticed in our room that it lacks clothes hanger.  Outside our room was a bamboo hanger but i'm not sure if its for everyone's use especially for the 2 rooms behind the reception area which is perpendicular to our room.  I wasn't able to ask about it.

The bed with extra mattress underneath

Room service button beside the bed

Mini ref and electric fan

Small LCD TV with small table and chair

Given that its only 3 stars, only mini soaps and towels were provided. The toilet/shower area was quite small. While inside, you need to stay away from the door for you to be able to close it and use the toilet. The faucet was quite at the edge of the water bin which makes it difficult to use.  Nevertheless, water flow was strong and everything was functioning well.

The bathroom.  See the door?  That's already full open.

Need to close the door to access the toilet
The free breakfast was just so so.  There were times when the viand seems reheated several times as it was somehow hardened already.  Nothing spectacular on their food but somehow edible.  You can also ask their friendly staff to buy food for you from outside stores.

Service was great. They allowed and delivered our breakfast in our room when it was raining one morning. They will also be the one to offer to clean your room if you like. We requested for that even with our valuables still in our room and nothing got lost.  The staff also helped my fiance in preparing a surprised proposal for me.  You may read the story here.

The room rate was cheap for a standard room. But for me, the discounted rate we got should be the right price for their room considering it was quite small. We stayed in other beachfront resorts in station 1 at the same rate as their regular rate but the room was bigger.

Overall, we enjoyed our stay and most probably I will recommend this to my budget conscious friends.  Besides, it is a memorable stay for me and my now fiance as they help in the preparation of the proposal.